tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC March 25, 2014 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
goldwater girl. but it doesn't hurt a bit to have people around like rand paul these days reminding us of that ideal, perfect ideal of freedom we hungered for as youth. the urge for liberty is as american as apple pie and it can taste just as good. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york p.m. i'm chris hayes. just how much can a corporation get away with? that's the question everyone is asking from detroit to washington, d.c., today. a blockbuster report in "the new york times" today reveals that general motors knew about potentially fatal defects in the vehicles they were selling for almost five years before they pulled them off the road. the question now is, how did this happen? >> after all, something went wrong with our process in this instance. and terrible things happened. >> over the past decade, general
motors has been aware that over a million of their cars on the road potentially had a fatal glitch. an ignition switch that could suddenly turn off the engine and airbag system while the car was driving. as early as 2004, gm knew of at least one incident where this happened. an engineer found that something as simple as a weighted key chain could cause the cobalt to lose power. solutions to fix the flaw were rejected by gm after consideration of the lead time required cost and effectiveness of each of these solutions. in 2005, a gm engineer proposed a redesign to fix the flaw. those plans were scrapped. instead, gm sent out a service bulletin to its dealerships warning drivers not to use heavy key chains. in the summer of 2005, 16-year-old amber marie rose was killed after the airbag in her chevy cobalt failed to activate.
>> the ignition switch was actually in the accessory position which in effect turned the airbags off. even back in 2005, i saw indications that gm was aware that this problem was occurring. >> in april of 2007, regulators were notified by an investigator that rose's crash was linked to the faulty ignition. they did not open an investigation. and by the end of 2007, general motors was aware of four crashes related to their faulty ignition. they gathered the black boxes from the cars, but it wasn't until years later in the spring of 2009 that engineers met and confirmed that a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars. less than two months later, gm filed one of the largest bankruptcy agreements in u.s. history. the general motors that emerged from bankruptcy was absolved of its liability from all crashes before june 2009. meanwhile, the company continued
to mislead and ignore the families of victims. in fact, years after finding out definitively about the link, they continued to tell families of accident victims that they did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars. in one case, gm threatened to come after the family of an accident victim for reimbursement of legal fees if the family did not withdraw its lawsuit. finally, last month, gm recalled 1.6 million small cars including the cobalt which was discontinued in 2010. the number of deaths caused by the glitchy ignition is in dispute. general motors say they have evidence of 12 related deaths. independent experts say as many as 303 people have been killed. here's what's not in dispute. in the spring of 2009, gm knew that millions of their cars had a potentially fatal ignition glitch. it took them almost five years
to take those cars off the roads. joining me now, msnbc contributor josh barro. he's got a new job, national correspondent for "the new york times." and joan claybrook, former director of the national highway traffic safety administration under the carter presidency. the auto industry bestowed her with the nickname "the dragon lady" during her tenure there. i'd wear as a badge of pride if i were you. joan, can i start with you? i have to say, i read the famous ralph nader book from the 1960s about recalls and auto safety, and i thought i was fairly jaded and cynical. when you put all the facts together of this gm case, i came away shaking my head. i really can't believe this still happens. >> it's amazing. it's totally amazing. general motors covered this, in my view, for fine years. they knew people were dying. lawsuits were filed. great detail by the zee departme
department. somebody in the company said, no, we're not going to do it and they sent bulletins to dealers, but that's it. they should be ashamed of themselves. i hope that the justice department criminal investigation will result in both jail time and in significant financial penalties for this company. >> let me ask you this, and then josh, i want to get your take on this. but, you know, there is this grisly business of calculating the skral value of a human life anyone in the safety business has to go about, right? in some theoretical sense, if there was an auto glitch that had an expectation that it would take one life away and it would cost $40 billion to get rid of it, right, we wouldn't expect the company to do that. how are those decisions made? and who should be making them? because in this case, it seems like gm just went to the numbers and said, it's not worth it. >> well, i don't think general motors does a calculation on the value of a life. i think they do their calculations based on the cost of the recall. >> right. >> and the department of transportation says that a life
is worth $9 million. so that's nothing compared to the cost of a big recall. i understand that. but when you add in the lawsuits and you add in the penalties from the s.e.c., potentially in the gm bailout, lying to the government, fraud, justice department criminal penalties, it adds up. it's big-time. of course, the loss of support from their customers who are infuriated about that. >> josh, that's, of course, one of the arguments you hear about regulation which is making defective products should be bad for business. the market should sort of sniff and price that out. this to me is the perfect example of the problem with that argument is cause and effect aren't clear to the end user. >> general motors is a company that made a lot of bad business decisions over the years that have not been good for shareholders. i don't think it's surprising gm management might make a decision that wasn't good for shareholder value and, therefore, that the fact that this hasn't been good for business isn't something that actually protected
consumers here. i think it's early to say, you know, exactly who has what liability at gm. i don't think we know yet who within gm knew what when. i think that there must have been smart management people there who would have realized this was going to result in this sort of problem that is damaging to the reputation and that ultimately also leads to them likely having significant liability. so i think this is, you know, a terrible thing that happened here, but it's early to get out the jury. >> well, and i think one of the lessons to me, at least, is the vigilance necessary in this arena. joan, we were looking back over the data today and it's actually pretty stunning. if you take auto fatalities per hundred million miles traveled, in 1950, it was 7 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. this year, 2011, it's down. the safety act passed seat belts
are mandated. mandated, that's the brake light you can see. all states set the drinking age up to 21. federal speed limit controls eliminated. this has been a remarkable accomplishment between engineering, regulation, and law and policy to massively diminish the fatalities associated with autos. >> oh, absolutely it has. and it's been a lot of hard work and a lot of very tough leaders in the congress. i think that it is a remarkable story. but that doesn't in any way diminish the responsibility of both general motors, other auto companies and the department of transportation to be the, you know, on the case and for the department of transportation to be the cop on the beat, to be tough, to be looking for these problems, the department of transportation still says that it never had enough evidence to open an investigation in this case. i don't know what more you need. >> right. >> when the airbag doesn't work and when the power steering doesn't work and the power brakes don't work because the
ignition turns itself off, what more evidence do you need that this is a risk to safety? >> yeah. >> and i just disagree with their handling of this completely. >> it does seem in retrospect the regulators in 2007 really dropped the ball partly, because, josh, it's a glitch that is so intuitively clear, right? the key is in the ignition and it just slips off and all of a sudden you find yourself without power. and this was something that was pretty eye opening in the "wall street germ" today. general motors engineering knew about the problems on the 2005 cobalt that could disable power steering, power brakes and airbags but launched the car because they believed vehicles could be safely coasted off the road after a stall according to court documents. >> well, we've seen that in some of the narratives, right, where, for example, you had cases where people had blood alcohol limits above the legal limit but also their airbag shut down. quite possibly they would have lived either if there wouldn't have been the defect or if they had been sober at the time they were driving. it's not reasonable to assume, oh, if you car shuts down, you'll figure out what to do in
that situation. it points to the fact this is, you know, whether we're talking about a few dozen or a few hundred deaths, we have about 30,000 auto fatalities a year. the overarching cause is driver error. a big part of that decline over the last several decades is regulation and engineering as you describe. it's also changes in norms where people, there's a stronger norm in favor of wearing seat belts than there used to be. there's a stronger norm against drunk driving. people feel that's an immoral activity. so there can be further changes in that area, too. we need stronger regulation to ensure that vehicles are safe, but we also need to get drivers to drive -- >> what about joan said about criminal liability? >> it will depend about what we find out about who knew what at gm. >> is there precedent for criminal liability in these cases? you talked about jail time. >> the toyota case where the cars ran away on their owns because of the floor mats, and i believe electronic issue which has never been totally resolved. the justice department imposed a
$1.2 billion civil dollar find under criminal fraud statutes on toyota. they didn't put anyone in jail. they have continuing oversight of the company for three years. i think they should have put someone in jail because that's a game changer. >> yeah. >> if you have to go to jail and you're an executive, that's the end of your, well maybe we should and maybe we shouldn't attitude. the other thing is neither the auto companies nor the department of transportation really pay any attention to consumer complaints which is the best free information either one could get. what's going on out there on the highway, and they don't use the information they have. general motors is also, you know, exempt from because of the bailout, provision in the bailout. they're exempt -- >> exempt from liability before 2009. they're maintaining all the deaths due to this came before 2009. i should note. msnbc contributor josh barro, joan claybrook, former director of the nhtsa. thank you both. >> thank you. imagine for a minute a company that wouldn't pay for health insurance that covered treatment for aids because of what the owners of that
company's religious or moral beliefs held. there's a case that's not too far from that before the supreme court today. what the justices had to say about it, ahead. sel gets up to 795 highway miles per tank. salesperson #2: actually, we're throwing in a $1,000 fuel reward card. we've never done that. that's why there's never been a better time to buy a passat tdi clean diesel. husband: so it's like two deals in one? avo: during the salesperson #2: first ever exactly. volkswagen tdi clean diesel event, get a great deal on a passat tdi, that gets up to 795 highway miles per tank. and get a $1000 dollar fuel reward card. it's like two deals in one. hurry in and get a $1,000 fuel reward card and 0.9% apr for 60 months on tdi models. ...return on investment wall isn't a street... isn't the only return i'm looking forward to... for some, every dollar is earned with sweat, sacrifice, courage. which is why usaa is honored to help our members with everything from investing for retirement to saving for college. our commitment to current and former military members
coming up, what's the last truly offensive racial slur you can casually say at parties or workplace and not bring the conversation to a screeching halt? the answer, ahead. [ male announcer ] this is kevin. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol.
i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again. and now i've got to take more pills. ♪ yup. another pill stop. can i get my aleve back yet? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. do you remember the last time obamacare came before the supreme court? it was kind of a hot mess. >> so it appears as if the supreme court justices have struck down the individual mandate, the centerpiece of the
health care legislation. >> boy -- >> we have breaking news here on the fox news channel. the individual mandate has been ruled unconstitutional. >> oh my gosh. >> we're getting conflicting information. >> what is that? >> we're getting conflicting information. the question is, as the individual mandate been upheld or has it not? and it appears that the answer is the law will stand. >> repeal it now! repeal it now! >> well today the affordable care act was back before the court for a rematch of sorts. as part of the right's quest to subvert, destroy or at the very least whittle away at the edge os the law. the question this time and the reason there were hundreds of activists outside the supreme court today was whether a corporation can object to mandatory birth control coverage in health care plans based on that corporation's claim of religious liberty. most of today's protesters were there to argue that, no, the owner of a giant company should
not be allowed to restrict his employees' health coverage based on his own personal religious beliefs. the lead plaintiff in the case, hobby lobby, had its supporters outside the courthouse as well. the chain of 500 arts and crafts stores with 13,000 employees is owned by ceo david green who objects to certain methods of birth control like iuds. bear in mind the preventative care coverage mandated under the affordable care act includes literally dozens of screenings, services, drugs and immunizations, most of which have nothing to do with contraception. so far the only one that's being challenged all the way up to the supreme court on religious liberty grounds involves women's ability to control their own reproductive health. something several women justices couldn't help but note. joining me now, dia,senior editor at slate.com. there's so much to get to in this argument. before we do any of it, i want to make this point. the factual claim hobby lobby is making which is certain forms of contraceptions they object to
are actually abortion is an untrue claim about the actual science, right? i want to establish that because everything proceeds from there. >> you can establish it for your purposes and for the purposes of life, chris -- >> which is important. >> which is important. but i just want to be clear not only does that almost not matter, it almost doesn't arise today. >> right. >> the solicitor general's office goes further and says, you know what, we're going to assume that they are in good faith when they say this is what they believe and we're not touching it. so over and over again today, the issue -- you're watching it not come up, the issue of, you know, you say this is an abortifacient. science disputes that, all of popular medical opinion disputes that. it doesn't get heard. not only that, the sg's office goes as far to say, we take your word, if you believe this, we will not probe that we. >> so the big thing i think immediately when people think about this, they think about there's a few things. first is, corporations, are
corporations a kind of entities that have religious conscience, religious liberty as opposed to individuals, human beings? at some point, justice sotomayor talks about that. she says how does a corporation exercise religious? we have 200 years of corporations speaking in its own interests. where the cases that show a corporation exercises religion? is the court in new ground here? >> it's clearly in new ground. and this is one of the issues that comes up, and donald verley, the solicitor general says over and over again what hobby lobby and conastoga, which is the pennsylvania cabinet maker, the other plaintiff in this case, what they're asking for is totally legally unprecedented. they're asking not just a corporation, be clear, a for-profit corporation, they're asking to say it has free exercise rights, that it is a person for purposes of rifra, religious freedom restoration act, and this has never been done. and you're going to cry when i tell you this, but justice
scalia's response to, well, no court has ever held that corporations have religious freedom is, well, no court has ever not held that they -- so you can -- that's how my 8 -year-old argues. that's the answer. is that it's never not been done. so there we are. >> so, so after you sort of establish this, so let's assume, let's say coa corporation is a person for these purposes. there's some sort of interest here. okay. then the next thing people hear in this case is, what are the slippery slopes? there seem slippery slopes in other direction. one of them, sotomayor brought up today. she said "is your claim limited to sensitive materials like contraceptives or include blood transfusions or vaccines in for some religions, products made of pork? is there any claim under your theory that has a religious basis, could the employer preclude the use of those items as well?" what is hobby lobby's lawyer's answer to that? >> his answer to that is let's
confine ourselves to this sensitive materials. already, red flags, why is this sensitive whereas aids treatment, blood transfusions and civil rights laws are not sensitive? i think that's code for has to do with sex. but he tries to cabin it, chris, by saying, you know, those other things are different. this is about something that isn't that sprawling array of other, you know, parade of horribles. and he goes on to say, look, you know, rifra's been around since 1993 and haven't seen jehovah's witnesses come forward and haven't seen mennonites come forward and haven't seen this parade of horribles. clearly they're not out there. that's the response. >> judge anthony kennedy kind of did the slippery slope on the other side basically saying, under your view, this is, again, to the solicitor general, solicitor general don verley representing the federal government in this case. qults under your view a profit corporation could be force in principle, there are some statutes on the books that could prevent it, could be forced in principle to pay for abortions." i have to say, i was not clear
that wasn't -- what does don verley say to that, yes, right? >> well, he's in a tough spot. >> he's smart enough not to say yes. >> he doesn't say yes, but he's in a tough spot. i want to just emphasize that chief justice john roberts who people thought might be neutral on this the way he was kind of trying to broker a deal in the eight cases. roberts came right out and said, yes, it's clear for their purposes by their beliefs this is being forced to provide an abortion. paul clement in his closing said the same thing. that's the impression you're left with, this is the slippery slope to think about. >> so, what does this mean for the next line of cases? one of the things if you take a step back here that i kind of have this sneaking suspicious, i don't want impute bad faith. let me say it does feel a little bit like you can't please these folks in this sense, right? in this case you have this for-profit corporation says we don't want to do this birth control mandate. coming up before the court, you're going to have the little sisters of poor who have an
accommodation under the law where they have to sign a form so they don't have to provide this birth control coverage. they're saying signing the form, itself, violates their religious liberty. it does feel a little bit like people have a problem with the law, or they have a problem with birth control more than they have the sort of abstract principle beliefs. maybe i am interpreting them through bad faith. >> no, i mean, one of the interesting side skirmishes that didn't get much press today is the court kind of pressing paul clement on, look, if you just have to sign the form the way the little sisters have to sign the form, would that be enough? or does that trigger abortions in their view? >> right. >> and paul clement has a tough time answering. so you're quite right to say the next line of defense is going to be we object to this, too. and that worried the liberal members of the court a lot today. >> i will be 70 years old covering legal challenges to the affordable care act. dahlia lithwick from slate.com. thank you. >> thank you, chris. coming up, in 2012 sheldon
adelson put more than $92 million behind failed presidential candidates like newt gingrich. >> i'm in favor of newt gingrich because i like people who make decisions. he's a decision-maker. you don't have to worry about using the word islamo-fascism or islamo-terrorist when that's what they are. not all islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are islamists. >> that guy, sheldon adelson, would like to win this time. so he's holding his very own presidential primary in vegas this weekend. more on that, next. your eyes really are unique.
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2016 presidential election is still 2 1/2 years away, but the first 2016 primary is already taking place. while it doesn't technically appear on any official election calendar, and there will only be one actual vote cast, it may prove more important for republican presidential hopefuls in iowa and new hampshire combined. i'm talking, of course, about what's been dubbed the sheldon primary named after this guy, sheldon adelson, casino magnate worth more than $38 billion according to "forbes." making him the eighth richest man in the world. the sheldon primary kicks off this week at the adelson-owned nonunion venetian luxury hotel in las vegas during what's officially spring meeting of the republican jewish coalition, where amid the speeches, golf outing, poker tournament and gala dinner, adelson plans to hold unofficial one-on-one
meetings with republican hopefuls to have flown to vegas for the occasion according to the "washington post." includes former florida governor jeb bush who will be the featured speaker at a vip dinner at the private airplane hangar where adelson keeps his fleet as well as three other men believed to be exploring a presidential run in 2016. chris christie of new jersey, scott walker of wisconsin, and john kasich of ohio. so why is it so important for these guys to win the sheldon primary? well because sheldon adelson will spend a whole lot of money to try to get his chosen candidate elected. we know that adelson and his wife spend at least $98 million in the 2012 campaign cycle to boost gop candidates, though they may have intent much more. two gop fund-raisers told the "washington post" adelson spent closer to $150 million. gave $20 million to the superpac backing newt gingrich, prolong the gop primary process to the great consternation of the republican establishment which wanted it over.
adelson could spend way more than that on a candidate this time around. after all, this is a guy that "forbes" says makes an average of $32 million a day. when you're making that much, what's a few hundred million between friends. >> hey, it's not like these throwing the money away. his latest cause, the scourge online gambling, he opposes for moral reasons, not because it could compete with his own casinos. >> any skeptic could say that i am -- that money is the consideration. money is not the consideration with me. i think it's a train wreck. that's -- it's really toxicity, it's a cancer waiting to happen. >> why would you think money was a consideration for sheldon adelson? adelson and his wife donated more than $15,000 to senator lindsey graham's campaign last year and soon, according to politico, graham plans to introduce a bill to ban internet gambling though it's not an issue that previously attracted much of his attention. you can see why spending a couple hundred million dollars
on a presidential candidate might look like an awfully good investment. we reached out to a spokesperson who declined our request for an interview with sheldon adelson. joining me, robert reich, former secretary of labor in the clinton add strministration, no professor at the university of california berkeley. all right. i want to play devils advocate. we think about big money. we think about big money as this monster that drives the agenda, but one could argue that in the 2012 primary, ex-se sencentric billionaires actually were a kind of revolutionary presence in the republican primary. they kept the establishment from closing ranks, funded rick santorum, adelson funded gingrich. it kept them competing and kept things more open and democratic. ma say y what say you? >> i'd agree with anything until the last words you used, more democratic. when you have a few billionaires keeping the republican primary going, keeping republicans going, and it looks like may might be keeping even some democrats going, that's not
exactly the democratic process. >> yeah, that's a fair point. it's a little more of the kentucky derby model, right? where you have wealthy owners of horses who back their horses and race them down the track and they cheer, but it's all basically a rich person's game. >> yeah. in fact, that's really the problem. in fact, we've done in this country over the last 25 years as income and wealth have become more concentrated, chris, we've gone from political parties that used to -- i remember the day, believe it or not, i'm not that old, when political parties would sort of represent most people to political parties in the 1980s and 1990s that became fund-raising devices for mostly going to rich people, and now we have the koch brothers and sheldon adelson and a lot of others, several others, not a lot, but really a handful of billionaires creating their own political parties, their own political apparatus. the sheldon primary is a good example. i mean, you have candidates who are going to be beholden not to
political parties but to billionaires if they get elected. >> i think it's interesting, the scourge that campaign finance activists talk about is the quid pro quo, and usually it doesn't work like that. usually it's just much more complicated and overdetermined than i give you money, you deliver for me on a piece of legislation. but we're getting to the point where the amount of money is so large and the interest of the people giving the money is so mementos, we are going to get to a quid pro quo straight-up out in the open scandal that's going to break it all. that is my prediction. we're going to have a crisis moment where it just is the case that some plutocrat gives hundreds of millions of dollars and just gets something straight-up in return. >> well, it's already happening. if it were going to be a make-or-break point, there's plenty of evidence around that big corporations and some very wealthy individuals have got exactly what they want. i think it's going to be a race between increasing cynicism on
the part of the public and kind of an end post for major reform that comes through repeated scandal, repeated stories about these major, major funders, billionaires, basically controlling more and more of the political process. >> i thought it was interesting there was a poll on the koch brothers, and it was asking folks what they thought of them. and 12% favorable impression. 25% an unfavorable impression. 11%, no o pin wherepiniopinion. a majority of people, slim majority, never heard of them. you have an interesting asymmetry, i guess most people wouldn't know who sheldon adelson is. maybe name their senator, maybe name their governor. here's a guy who has more power than either, and people don't know him. some ways they're not actually public figures unless the press and journalism makes them public figures. >> i think that's precisely the point, chris. it's not only you right now this minute who are making adelson and koch brothers more public figures but the press in general, the media in general
beginning to respond to what the public feels. that is that the game is basically loaded. it's tilted in favor of a few billionaires that are really rigging it for their benefit. it's not just adelson and online, you know, gambling. it's also the koch brothers who really don't want environmental regulations because all of their petrochemical plants and industry don't want any environmental. it's a series of billionaires that basically are taking over our democracy. >> the thing that always strikes me is if you look at the years, i mean, the grand irony that underlies all of this is if you look at the obama administration years, from 2009 when he took office, until now, all of these people are doing so much better. people that have -- what we have seen is accelerating inequality. we've seen billionaires who have doubled. the ones kbl s complaining to gr the democratic party and barack obama -- >> there's no question. >> they've done so well. >> there's no question. the stock market has roared. i mean, it's these people who
have never, never, ever done better. adelson is making about $1.5 million per hour. i mean, compare that to -- >> oh my lord. >> -- the minimum wage worker at $7.25. i mean, there's no -- these people have never had more power. we're moving, i think, toward a kind of, well, it's not exactly a russian oligarchy, but it feels an awful lot like -- less like a plutocracy, more like an oligarch. >> we use the word oligarchy when talking about other countries but may need to import that back domestically. robert reich. documentary "inequality for all" is out now. coming up, an owner of on nfl team wants to help american indians but keeping his team named ed after a racial slur. today, and missing the point, ahead. [ male announcer ] they say he was born to help people clean.
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immediate neighbors not out of strength, but out of weakness. >> president obama had some extremely barbed meants today dismissing russia as a threat to the united states and throwing some shade at russia for its annexation of crimea. >> we have considerable influence on our neighbors. we generally don't need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them. >> it was a pretty sweet burn. all things considered. just so we're all clear about the history of this country by which i mean the united states, the term generally in the statement we generally we don't invade our neighbors is doing a lot of work. of course, just over the last, say, ten years, there were the nonneighbor countries we innovated and bombs like iraq, after staen a avr stan, and libya. and places we've sent drones and missiles like yemen and somalia and pakistan. but back to our neighbors. the united states has not actually invaded anyone we could plausibly call a neighbor in 20
years. in two decades of nonneighbor invading is actually a pretty decent run for this country. 1994, u.s. troops occupied haiti. five year s earlier we invaded panama. in 1965, we invaded the dominican republic. and the pbay of pigs went so poorly you thought we would have learned our lesson. in the course of half a century, 20 years without invading a neighbor is the longest we've ever gone. let's not screw that run up. one of the great side benefits of not invading your neighbors is the little extra punch it gives you when you're called on to comment on the totally unacceptable invasion of another country by its neighbor. in the nation, we reward safe driving.
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[ male announcer ] the rhythm of life. [ whistle blowing ] where do you hear that beat? campbell's healthy request soup lets you hear it in your heart. [ basketball bouncing ] heart healthy. [ m'm... ] great taste. [ tapping ] sounds good. campbell's healthy request. m'm! m'm! good.® dan snyder is the owner of the nfl's washington, d.c., football team whose name might be the last racial slur you can get away with saying at work. it's so offensive the sports reporters and columnists from "sports illustrated," "san francisco chronicle," "usa today" and "philadelphia daily news" pledged not to use it. last fall my nbc colleague bob costas did a great job of explaining just why it's so offensive. >> ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed toward african-americans, hispanics, asians, or members of any other ethnic group. when considered that way,
redskins can't possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait. nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. it's an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent. >> this kind of pressure building against it, it is getting harder and harder for dan snyder to defend the team's name. to defend what is really indefensible. now, there's a very simple solution to snyder's problem. he could just change the name of his team. and sure, adopting a new name would be a headache and would surely cost the team some money. it's hard to imagine the cost of a name being all that painful to a franchise, but according to "forbes" is worth $1.7 billion. dan snyder will not change his team's very offensive name. famously telling "usa today" last year, "we'll never change the name. it's that simple. never. you can use caps." instead, snyder has decided to launch a foundation whose mission is to, "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for tribal
communities." because snyder is so serious about the importance of this cause, he announced this initiative yesterday on letterhead emblazoned with his team's racist name. suzanne harjo, american indian activist and opponent of the team's name told the "associated press" snyder's move was, quote, a pr assault and bribery." joining me, peter obrin, and writer dave mckenna who wrote a column about dan snyder, owner of the washington, d.c., football team. snyder sued the paper over it. the suit was later dropped. dave, i'll begin with you. why won't he change the name? what is it here? is it tradition? is it just money? what's the deal? >> it's because people told him to change the name. he will change -- tradition doesn't really mean much to dan snyder. he changed the level, the club level at fedex field, it was called the joe gibbs level, as sacred a figure as there is in
redskins nation. he changed that to stubhub level this year for money. so he will still out. but he also is a very stubborn man. he will not do what you want him to do. >> you think it's literally the fact people are saying you have to do this that's making him say i will not do it because you're telling me to do it? >> absolutely. if he could come up with a way to make it look like it's his idea, he'd change it tomorrow. >> do you think there will be a rising crescendo where players say, this is a problem, i don't want to play for a team that has a name like this? >> i just think for the simple fact there aren't a disproportionate number of native-americans playing in the nfl -- >> let's be clear, it would look a lot different than it were. >> exactly. i don't think players care one way oar or another. they're aware of it. being a negative washingtonian, growing up in that era, the redskins are the reasons i wanted to play in the nfl. i went through the bullets to
the wizards change. the argument was, does it affect the negative stereotypes, things going on in d.c.? >> yes, the nba team in washington was called the washington bullets. it was changed in the 1990s. >> '95. >> partly because there was, "a," a lot of crime and homicide in washington, d.c., "b" a sense in which they thought it was glorifying gun violence, "c," it was associated with the negative stereotypes people had about the city. it was changed to the washington wizards. the franchise did fine. we can imagine a path forward in which the washington football team name is changed and they are a perfectly profitable cherished institution. >> sure. i mean, as americans, we root who we're told for. we root for the redskins because we're from here. and it's engrained. you root for the home team. you root for your country in war and your home team in football. so matter what it's called, you
will root. expansion teams, there's no tradition. you don't need tradition to start rooting for a team. that argument doesn't wash. the longer this goes on, it's going to eventually, obviously it's going to change. younger people are not going to want to be associated with something that's even thought of as any sort of, you know, racist -- i mean, i joke, semi-joke if snyder keeps talking about this, the redskins jersey is going to be the new clan robe. kids are not going to touch it except in irony or as a symbol of something very nasty. >> do you think that's going to happen with the fans? someone who's a lifelong fan? i remember going to, actually was in fedex field for a football game, and it didn't strike me that that sense of discomfort with the name of the team and what that name indicates and how offensive it is to people that that had seeped into at all the fan base. >> no, and, again, going back to brand equity, going back to daniel snyder standing behind this 81-year tradition of the washington redskins, it hasn't
hurt his pockets. people aren't giving up their suites or luxury boxes. it hasn't affected dan snyder negatively. the franchise would be probably worth a lot more if he did go through this -- i mean, sure marketing people would have fun with this new name change and reorganization. but, again, you back to the foundation. the activists are saying don't throw money at the problem. >> right. >> but if the franchise is worth a lot more money, does he still throw money at it? >> go back. the argument that dan snyder has given, dave, constantly that the washington pr people have rolled out is actual american indians, they're fine with this. you hear this all the time. what's your response to that argument? >> i don't buy it. i mean, i went through the "washington post" archives from the team was named in 1933, i believe, by preston marshall, a local, a d.c. guy. and i went through the "washington post" archives from that point previous to find all the references to redskins and they're all incredibly hateful.
even like calling jim thorpe thesavage red skin in one column because they don't like the way he behaved himself in the swedish olympics in 1912. there's not one reference of respect. marshall, he gives his wife credit for writing it, the theme song or whatever you call it. the fight song. and it's the most racist piece that you've ever seen. beat them, heap them. it's just really embarrassing. >> used to be fight for old dixie if i'm not mistaken. >> he put that in in '59 during the -- he put it in when the civil rights debate came up. that was not originally for dixie. >> roman oben and writer dave mckenna. coming up, i'm going to talk to a member of the pawnee nation. and the smithsonian museum of the indian, his reaction to dan snyder's announcement of the foundation. so stay with us. and it was uncomfortable.
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more of of discussion in a moment. let's help danny snyder out. go to all in with chris facebook page and give us your suggestion on the new name for the washington, d.c., football team. i'm kind of liking the washington originals. i think that would be pretty good. how about you? please be sure to like us on the page while you're there. are you still sleeping? just wanted to check and make sure that we were on schedule. the first technology of its kind... mom and dad, i have great news. is now providing answers families need. siemens. answers. how was prugh.ce? that bad? i dropped 2 balls, mom. eye on the ball! that's all it is. eye on the ball. that's a good tip. i'll try it. by the way, bill... this is delicious! so many grilled tastes and textures.
we're back. joining me now, kevin gopher, member of the pawnee nation of oklahoma, and director of the smithsonian institution's national museum of the american indian. kevin, i'd like to get your response to the announcement by dan snyder of this new foundation today. what to you make of it? >> well, we knew it was coming. i had heard from friends that the team was trolling around indian country looking for somebody somewhere who was willing to accept some goodies from the team. so it came as no surprise. >> you don't sound particularly impressed. >> well, let me say a couple of things. first of all, no one is against
people providing assistance to poverty stricken native communities. i'm glad mr. snyder would do something like that. on the other hand, it wasn't lost on us that in order to receive those benefits, you had to dress up in team gear, be photographed and used in their publicity. so it's a mixed bag. >> there are people who point to other names, the braves, the seminoles, the fighting illini, and the indians and say, well, we have all these other names. a name is a name. it ultimately gets detached from its initial meaning as it gets used in a different context. what is -- is there a particular kind of venom in this name, particularly? >> well, all native mascots perpetuate stereotypes of native people, and so we oppose those. but this is a particularly vicious word. it's one that was understood throughout the 20th century, as someone was pointing out earlier, as a racial insult.
it's still a racial insult. it's a word nobody in polite company would use directed toward an actual native person. and so it's not okay to use it in this context because it encourages the kind of racist behavior that you see from fans of the team. people dressing up like indians, they believe. and really they're dressing up in ways we find demeaning and insulting. the name necessarily is demeaning and promotes stereotyping and racism against native people. >> are you encouraged by what it appears to me as someone who's been observing this as a kind of ground swell i would say over the last 12 to 18 months in which this has really become a real issue? it's an issue for the style guides of newspapers, it's something that is talked about in the sports media. it is very present. the kind of obvious offensiv offensiveness of this is something that is very hard to ignore. do you think it's building toward some kind of tipping
point? >> you know, i wrote my first letter to the "washington post" about this in 1973 when i was 18 years old because it was so clear to me even as a young man that this was a racial insult and i could not understand why it was allowed to be perpetuated. yeah, i mean, it's exciting that the issue is getting so much attention. we appreciate the attention that you've devoted to it tonight. can we account for it? maybe we've just reached a tipping point and finally people are beginning to focus. certainly young people and people in general are becoming more aware of the consequences of stereotyping and the use of race language directed at any number of groups. and it's no surprise to me that we would be one of the last to be noticed because we are so few. >> yeah. >> if you think about it, how often do you meet a native-american? most people have that experience. once they do, once they see that indian people are real people
just like everybody else, those sorts of stereotypes become less attractive to them. >> in some ways that's what makes the stereotype of this very famous team all the more harmful in that respect. kevin glover from the smithsonian institution. thank you for your time tonight. really enjoyed it. >> you're so welcome. >> "that is "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" begins now. >> good evening, chris. thank you. thanks to you at home for joining us thus hour. there is a confession. we're told there's a written confession in the mysterious and bizarre killings that happened in the boston suburbs on the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. september 11th, 2011, in massachusetts, these three young men were all found dead. all inside the same apartment. they were all positioned the same way. all laying facing the same direction. all with their throats slit. and there was a significant quantity of marijuana that was thrown on top of their bodies just strewn over them. left untouched in the apartment s